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Most are probably familiar with the new HBG Global 1936 map. It adds terrain features, railroads, cities, and merchant shipping lanes as well as new Minor Powers like Poland.
I don’t know that I will use all of the terrain features, but it’s a possibility. I’ve already made peace with the bonus for defenders in cities. I also have plans to use the railroads for strategic movement. My current proposal is based on an old Xeno Games mechanic. Players draw on a pool of railway movement points during the Non-Combat Move Phase to increase the movement of land units between zones linked by a railway. Railways can be extended for 1 IPC per territory in which new track is laid.
Small wooden spars (the kind used to mark roads in Settlers of Catan) designate new track. I use another color to designate border changes on the map. I also lay down dice in cases where I want to modify the printed value of a territory or signal a value for new territories.
My theory for changing the number and income of Major and Minor Powers links to specific trends I’ve noticed in games played with my gaming group. Generally speaking, South America, the southern Pacific, Spain, and Portugal are ignored. For this reason, Portugal and Argentina appear as playable Minors. Portugal is given Brazil as a colonial territory to ensure that they collect enough income to be relevant.
Turkish neutrality and the inability of Italy to strike east early in the game mean that the Middle East only sees action in about half of all games played. For this reason, Greece is enlarged and introduced as a playable Minor.
I consistently find that Russia remains in a defensive posture during the early game. For that reason, I adopt the HBG approach of creating a third alliance bloc, the Comintern, which cooperates, yet also competes with, the Allies. At game start (late 1938), the Soviet player must decide whether to invade Finland, gird for war with Germany, or aggress against a weak Greece or China at the expense of future relations with the Allied powers (where public opinion may deny them access to Lend-Lease aid or delay war entry).
Because Japan is often played by a veteran who cuts through the Dutch and British Far East Command like a hot knife through butter, I amalgamated the Low Countries and made slight improvements to the Dutch forces in the Netherlands East Indies.
Technology rules are usually ignored because of the extent to which chance is involved. I opt for a system in which players may finance specific breakthroughs to be made over a defined period of time.
Politics and Diplomacy
I introduce a tracker for non-player Neutrals. The tracker is shaped like a triangle. Three spars radiate from as central point. If a marker is on that point, the country is a True Neutral. The marker can be moved in any of three directions, indicating growing levels of affinity for one of the three alliance blocs. At each level of affinity, the corresponding alliance bloc may interact with the Neutral in new ways, such as staging commerce raiders in its ports, gaining increased income from preferential trade agreements, or overflying its territory.
Influence is applied during a Diplomacy Phase, during which time players may negotiate specific deals of fixed terms and duration. They may also negotiate over the fate of particular territories. For instance, at game start, the French must decide whether to cede Saigon to Siam for a cash payment, while the Finns must make a similar decision with regard to the Karelian Isthmus.
Each Major and Minor Power starts with a number of Diplomacy Points that can be spent on influencing neutrals, purchasing event chits that can be played at a later time, or converted into cash to lubricate negotiations with other players.
New, cross-cutting National Objectives prevent players from attaining victory through diplomacy alone. Even allies may have slightly different, or contradictory, objectives, which complicates joint action.
There are new rules for Lend-Lease, and both the French and Dutch may purchase units and place units for Indochina and the NEI from the Western United States or Canada.
The United Kingdom and the British Far East Command are responsible for different theaters of war and, while allies, may not transfer units east or west, respectively, without ceding strategic and operational control. The Allied Powers must also decide whether to group under a joint ABDA Command. They gain efficiencies if they choose to do so but must then all sign off on a single course of action each turn.
New Combat System
I move to a d12 base and start some nations with units that cannot be rebuilt if lost (e.g., pre-dreadnaught battleships). For example, Argentina begins the game with capital ships, while lacking the industrial base requisite to build her own.
New units include armored cars, heavy artillery, self-propelled guns, transport aircraft (to deploy paratroopers), torpedo boat destroyers, auxiliary cruisers (commerce raiders), troopships (infantry-carrying transports), and coastal battleships.
Commanders are special units representing generals and admirals. They confer bonuses to units in the same territory. Commanders cannot be rebuilt if eliminated.
Nations that lack access to certain units (excepting infantry) may purchase these from Major Powers at a slightly increased price. This provides Major Powers with a means to earn additional income but may slow their own rearmament.
Players must deal with force limits corresponding to national manpower pools. Each nation has a pool of a different size. Only through possession of specific, non-national territories may players increase their pools.
When a player makes a combat movement into the same territory with land or sea units that started in different territories, that player (the attacker) may choose to add 1 to the to-hit value of one attacking unit. No matter how many units participate in the attack, this bonus is only granted once. This represents flank attacks, the element of surprise, and factors of morale.
Units that cannot trace an uninterrupted line back to friendly territory are considered out-of-supply. Units out of supply for more than one turn cannot attack. Units that defend at 3 or more are reduced to a defense of 2 or less.
A supply line is interdicted whenever a unit cannot trace a direct line through friendly or captured territory and open sea zones to friendly territory. Interdiction is triggered by the presence of enemy naval units, including submarines.
In cases where an enemy captures a territory astride a line of supply but does not occupy it with units, supply lines are still considered cut. (It is assumed that enemy partisans or garrison troops act to prevent the free movement of supplies.)
When surface warships are attacked by air units, all defending naval units suffer -2 to-hit unless a friendly Cruiser, Escort Carrier, Carrier, or Armored Carrier is present. (The carrier must not be damaged but does not need to be carrying any aircraft.)